Variation on a technique

Every now and then the need to diversify your product and step out of the box of my comfort zone to use a ceramic technique of firing to make new products that help attract new customers to my following.  Pictured (above) is a client’s necklace which I just finished hand knotting and posted on my blog to give her the heads up that the item in question is ready for pick-up.  Potters and artisans alike some times get comfortable into to a certain way of producing wares and sometimes the “focus” can be a bit narrow. After years of making wares for home accessories, I decided to branch out and try my hand at hand made jewelry.  Same clay and materials but a new set of rules to follow and respect when making wearable art. My focus was more minute in detail , though some of the motifs are the same. I found that working on small pieces like beads was the same amount of work as decorating a small bowl or square dish.  Happily after endless times of trails and errors I have gotten it down to a science where I can produce small amounts of beads to supply myself with a decent amount to mount 3-4 necklaces at a time. In the end we must challenge our capacity and creative endeavor to try and fail in order to master the various techniques of ceramics and explore new markets for wearable art.  Sometimes our efforts do not come to the ideal that we have set in our minds, as to what we would like to accomplish. Trying and getting closer to” that “ideal will help each one of us master our craft whatever the medium. Too many times artists like to stick with what they know best and I feel that there is no growth in exploration of materials and technique. We as artists need to step it up and learn the craft from classes and workshops and books and the web, then tweak and turn the techniques on their heads so we can see all the possibilities that are out there for  personal satisfaction in what we create. It depends on the personality of an artist… Many  prefer to remain  safe in the things that they produce and have no foresight into how to keep repeat customers and art advocates involved and interested with new products that are not only mugs, cups bowls and vases. I prefer to keep my customers and followers guessing…. It is a way to keep you audience engaged  in your creative process.and always has them coming back for more……..

Drawing with a sewing machine

Once again, I am back and as a start for the 2016 blog series, I have been convinced by my followers to use CAPITAL letters so that my blog entries are easier to read. It is a bit difficult for me because the notions that I have in my head,seem to travel faster than minor details, but if I must , I will begin this blog on which this curious path that my drawing has taken me. To draw with a sewing machine? The use of this obsolete device, of sorts, has me trying new and venture out in a new way to draw and sketch with a continuous line or stitch. I begin to transform an idea in my head onto the flat pieces of materials.Next,further transforming them into 3D by padding and filling then further embellishment by the use of embroidering and using several mixed media techniques to further embellish the 3d drawn object, which you can see  in the picture (above). I am having a blast! needless to say with the needlework, as yet another exploration of using my DRAWING talents in new and un-chartered territories of illustration and design. Yes, a bit crafty, you might think, but it does have its appeal. I made this piece,” Icarus Modern Birdman” for a show at a small gallery where I wanted to tweak my talents by NOT using ceramics and utilizing another medium of the work. Mixed reactions from the show, but ,this is something that I am seriously considering to explore more in depth. As Artisans, we all need to explore other mediums to better expand our horizons of creativity. I , myself get bored very rapidly and am always searching for ways to spark my interests by learning new ways of artistic expression. I hope that I have succeeded in this endeavor which I find fun and not just another fiber arts project, Hope you enjoy it….. All for now 

Product Development and Variations of Techniques

Hey there once again.. Been a while as I have been plowing away at my studio and working on some new directions with my Ceramics. August is here, and it seems that everyone except me is on vacation as visits to the studio have been few and given me the opportunity to explore new directions with the work at hand ,to develop new ideas and push the boundaries of the usual techniques that I implement in my work. (Above) you can see a picture of my hand decorated beads which I spent over a day just decorating and glazing. Meticulous and detailed oriented as I am, I sometimes wish that taking my art in to wearable art might have not been such a good idea due to the time spent painting tiny spheres to transform them into jewelry takes a lot of time and focus. It is sometime easier to decorate a large object than a small one. WHY? you ask? Sales is the answer. I have sold my hand painted jewelry and continue to make more due to the laws of Supply & Demand. GIVE the consumer or Art Lover what they are asking for….. In the same vain, I am working at the moment with a wood turner and trying my hand at high-fire firings with some other potter friends. WHY? Curiosity mostly,but also to push my work into different areas of research to try the products out on the public, to see their reaction as new way to generate sales. For Art lovers, there comes a time that as an artisan you need to provide new work in a new direction to continue to generate interest in their creative energy. Many times, too many times. I see fellow artists fall into the trap of ‘boxing themselves in to a corner’ because they think that they will continue to sell. Changing out techniques and diverse styles challenges ones self to “test the market” and to see the direct response from fellow artists, the public and a new group of consumer/art lovers. Believe me it works. I have a couple of pieces that I have done for and International Cup Show and people see it and want to buy it…. It is up to you to switch out materials and techniques once in a while to keep it interesting. DO NOT GIVE THE PUBLIC what they expect. Sales are increased when there is a bit of variety and might attract a whole different set of art enthusiasts. Take it from me who is use to playing monkey in a cage in front of the public. Customers return for the things that they know they can get from you. But do not limit yourself to the usual. Consumers crave to find something new from an artist that they follow. Never limit your creativity,it has no boundaries.You set boundaries on yourself when you become too comfortable with a certain form of creative expression or just plain lazy to push yourself to the next level or out of the usual box. Stay tuned for my new T-shirt designs that will be ready shortly and I will post the new design when they are ready for sale….. All for now.

Creative Food for Thought

It has been a while since my last blog entry and seeing that it is cold outside, and that I have had a couple of productive days in the studio painting these little bud vases  with micro designs and loading myself with caffeine and focus, I think that it is time to blog about where the creative process takes an artisan when selling to the public and about one’s ability as an artist to change or alter direction of art object in order to drive commerce and thrive. Many creative spirits seem less determined to to bending to the rules of Supply and Demand,in order to turn a profit or make a sale. In this generation of online stores popping up on the Web, the Creative community needs to take note of the way people make and sell “Handmade” works of art,design in the digital age. Those of us that choose the brick and mortar method of having a physical shop, studio or atelier, need to do a bit of research on how the new technology has altered and increased the  competitive way people buy art and handmade items. Your presence, online is vital where people, followers and possible patrons can catch a glimpse of your artistic endeavors via social networks, websites or other online platforms. I am a bit “old school” as for my own operation, I prefer to sell out of my studio but use all the tools available for a limited glimpse of  my endeavors to the online audience and focus on the direct approach to selling face 2 face with clients,art lovers and patrons. You might think that it is it enough? This is a question that we all have to ask ourselves when putting our work out there. How much do you really want to produce? What are the personal limits that set you up to making hand made goods without the quality starts to suffer, less then your personal potential to create. All good questions but the answer is different for each one of us in an artistic community of creatives.  Sure, everyone feels great when they make a sale, but at what point do you compromise, what you do in order to make a sale…… This is a common dilemma for many and the  reality of this dilemma has many answers depending on :

  • what you make
  • your price point
  • your competition and competitors
  • willingness to compromise your style or format in order to make a sale
  • unwillingness to change you artistic direction in regards to format, style or more

We as creative individuals, have to make serious decisions on how our products can compete with others in order to drive sales and financial security. Trial and error is part of putting yourself out there to learn the ropes of commerce and good or bad decision making. In the art studios where I work, I often time go around and see what other artists have done to make more affordable art and the decisions they have made have been surprising. They are divided into the following groups:

  • HARDCORE artisans: do what they want and try to dictate their style, color and format to their public with a take it or leave it attitude.
  • Wannabe Artisans: makers of an mediocre work and worst of all make bad decisions of art reproduction that has its limits on taste, quality or style. This is a growing group of middle-road artists that are trying to compete with many online stores and chains that have made sketchy choices on how to reproduce their art relying on online vendors to cheaply reproduce their work on phone case,mugs, etc.etc.etc.
  • Freestyle Artisans: Those selected few that have done their research online, in their workplace, to scout out what competitors do, at what price point? and at what quality level. Artisans that know who they compete with, and who are willing to compromise in order to stay competitive…..

Which group are you part of ? Simple question but hard to answer depending on your artistic medium. Economically, these are hard times, I do not think that we will see the glory days of the 60’s- 90’s ever again. With the costs to make art, the prices of materials, rents, technical assistance, can we make something that will not leave us in debt? A question we all need to ask ourselves as we create and when we consider the price of our artistic products. Sorry, this blog seems to stir up a lot of questions, and does not provide a lot of answers, we must all ponder in thought to come to what is the right conclusions for our work. Think about these points and reflect. Art for Art’s sake seems to take on a whole different meaning in these times. With all the political and social unrest, I see that the ability to create and defy is greater than ever. The art that is coming out of these times is quite inspiring to me, with a strong sense of purpose to creatively produce as a way to speak out about our world now, what we want and do not tolerate. An artistic approach to protest,resist and ridicule….. I am stirring up a lot of thoughts to encourage all of us as an artistic community to speak through our work and hope that the questions that are put forth in this blog have given you all some food for thought….

DIY and Youtube Generation

I spoke to a young couple, today, in my studio that asked information about the place where I work and possibilities and manner of jurying and residency programs and other possibilities in the art world. This conversation, I have many times with many visitors, where for the most part are sincere but, sometimes all too often, I hear that phrase,“Oh I can do that!”. It comes with the territorywhen work in front of the public. It is a fact, that with the advancement of technology. There are a lot of of people out there, that think that they can do the same things that many artist do because of DIY videos, and other platforms for digital storyboards and such. That they can do the job that I have chosen to do. It is part of the problem with all the mediocre stuff out there, today. There are many that are tech sauvy but become part of the new majority of a growing group of crafters,weekend artists and Yes, frustrated people that need an outlet to their creativity. Well, those of you out there that pertain to this group, take the following advice:

  1. Seek out the information from those(artists) in your line of creativity and speak to them about how they got where they are Today.
  2. Learn that the business of art has changed and always continues to evolves.
  3. Participate in a series of workshops, residencies and Jury processes to know what what is expected of you and what is thought about your creative expression. 
  4. Put your ego and thin skin on HOLD, and listen to constructive criticism of your work, and learn to work on how to make it better, more up-to-date, or sometimes, change of directions.
  5. Art is a difficult business to enter into, there’s a lot of sacrifice and work to make ends meet,  just to be able to create, sometimes for no financial rewards or goals.
  6. Most Important, Be honest with your skills and capacity as a creative individual. There will always be someone out there, that is better than you. Concentrate on the aspects that you are lacking to grow into a well-rounded creative spirit.

A more, well-rounded artist/business-minded person has to be aware that the mores of the art world and the art/business worlds are vastly different. You can have an online store. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can sell. Brutal Honesty with yourself and your capacity will be the only way to know if you’ve got what it takes. I try to encourage as many people seeking this sage advice, and frankly I know because I have been down this road. With odd jobs, teaching, and other gigs to do what I want to do. And it has taken me this far that I can write about it and share the advice and experience. There are many that just talk , but few that will choose this difficult path of the artist. It ,depends on your perspective, different points of views, open-ness to criticism and focus most of all. Many want my job, because they think its cool…. Try it and learn that it isn’t as easy as it might seem….. We as artists need to inspire, respect the creative forces out there, to be able to become a creative force of Creators and Community. Think about it and let me know. (above) A cropped version of my best selling postcard and a marketing tool to know what people are attracted to and what they think about my creative expression. Till my next entry…..

Packaging and Reducing your carbon footprint

Sometime when I have finished my ceramic work and am preparing for a show of small objects, I start to search for old boxes to recycle which I can source from friends and family to make custom fitting boxes for my wares. some might think that it is a waste of time, but personally I prefer to re-use and re-purpose cardboard boxes to make custom, low tech packaging for my ceramics in order to store them properly and moving them to and from shows. It reduces my carbon footprint for things that otherwise would go to the landfill.  think about it. Making patterns for custom boxes is relatively simple. Allow about an inch to width,length and height then cut, score and tape together. (above ) A picture of part of the display of my first show in the US since returning stateside, where I use the packaging to form different cardboard pedestals for my work in order to create more separate space so customers or potential buyers can concentrate on each piece while searching for the right piece to buy.  The show went well, although tiring to set up and sell. I made some new acquaintances and was able to greet some of my friends and fellow potters. As an artist community, we all need to support each other regardless the medium or style…. Mutual creative input help the artistic network to grow stronger as a community by providing handmade poetic pieces for this industrial world.

Drawing in motion…..a different direction

It has been sometime since my last blog entry at the end of last year.  My focus was on a couple of projects and a competition for a visiting artist programs…. If all goes well with the jury I might have some good news to share in the not too distant future. After the holiday sales and season, I needed a break to to the usual ceramic process and pointed myself towards another creative direction: illustration. it began as an illustrated series of sketches called” drawings in motion” drawings done while using public transport like the bus or metro….. Logging the mileage from start to finish of each drawing as to time to compose a drawing by the distance travelled. It is an interesting exercise in control where you can note the lack to a tight illustration due to a sudden movement or motion that is incontrollable…. The illustrated series is dedicated to a series of steampunk animals in battle gear with hidden meanings nestled between the fine lines of ink.

(Above) You can see some single sketches of the series which is still a work in progress. Just a glimpse to give you an idea of my creative process. from these sketches I will re-elaborate to transform them onto a new series of decorative ceramics in some manner. Right now I am not sure how the illustrations will effect the shapes or forms when painted on ceramics but I have some ideas which i am still toying around with. I’ll keep you all posted as soon as things evolve…….. 

Good Feelings and the Research for the Refined

Been busy with a lot of extra time in the studio,working, drawing and dreaming as I finally feel the end to a very productive and exhausting time this past summer. Part of my time has focused on a program run through the artist association that I am affiliated with which dedicates itself to the Summer residencies of visiting artist from the East Coast and other parts of the US. I was elected chair to this year’s round of artists, a non compensation job of giving back to the art community in which I work . As I found myself in the same situation several years back, in this program, I was able to try out my ideas,monitor my work to a new audiences, and modify my diverse directions  in order to sell more and create  a larger following of art lovers, clients and new smaller niche markets. Now looking back, I have met some wonderful visiting artists, exchanged views and opinions on my work and theirs and have a better sense of how vast the artist community has evolved in good and bad ways,and the interaction with new creative spirits as we discuss the importance of social media seems to take a key part to our already full work day and week. For my own point of  Creative strife, a certain amount of satisfaction comes knowing that what I have produced, has become a steady flow of income even in these hard times, and trying to keeps walls and shelves full of work that has become more intricate and pricy and at the same time placing some more affordable work as well…… But the sale of more expensive items continues to re-occur more often……how is this possible, you might ask? Simple, with all that is going on online and off, the research for a more refined art market has steadily grown. Less in quantity do they seek, art consumers that is, and a more discerning views of what is out there looking for the best and not the mediocre . Quality versus quantity is finally taking hold in my little studio and the small exhibitions locally. The art lover community is finally choosing  good work that is not necessarily based on the price, but on creative strife that sets it apart from the monotony of the mediocre….. I still continue to believe that the importance of small art to the young art collectors is still important. Focusing on the growing number of art enthusiasts that live in small flats in trendy areas and the amount that they are willing to spend. As their income grows, so does their desire for good original art that is not always reproductions but small formatted art that fits in to their daily life environment. Not everyone lives in a Mc mansion, and the downsizing trend is continuing worldwide. I hope that all of you reading this understand that the empathy and artist sensitivity a creative person must use is to understand their clients and learn to understand that it is not about your world but how your art or artistic expression fits into their worlds. A good point to think about…. Trying to be better at putting out the blog with more frequency but there are so many hours in a day and too many thoughts in my head, until next time ,Peace out

The Sound of Cyber Silence

Sorry to all for the long silence from my blog for the last several months but have had to deal with a lot of my family issues which have kept me from having a clear mind to sit down and write to all of my followers. My Instagram has been getting more dedicated time as I try and deal with work,getting my mindset back into a proper mode to work on the many aspects of the business both online and off. As I use my state of mind, the emotions to drive my work ,I sometimes feel that as if all is growing a bit too fast and my mind is split in more directions than before. Yes, media presence is growing to be more important with our creative process, but too many spend their energies in this direction and less in a more creative sense of artistic development of style, product and imagery to help expand our horizons and business… For myself, I have decided to sit back and place only essential information and inspiration on my blog to those of you that follow and use the visual imagery of Instagram (@the_horny_potter) to fulfill the day to day updates of what i am working on at the moment. As the holidays near,and commissions continue to be knocked out one after the other, I am fortunate to say that my following has grown and sales have been good. I am concentrating on making new prototypes, and using new materials to keep my following interested in what I do and continue to inspire the followers with new products at an affordable price. Prices has gone up due to increase in shipping and gas prices so my prices out of consequence have risen slightly. My aim is to make affordable handmade items for what I deem is affordable price.I am going back into my illustrations in black and white (see image above) to make original small format pieces for the holidays. My apprehension in making reproductions has kept me on the fence for too long. I see ,as many of my fellow artisans have chosen to follow the reproduction route, that after a while this is all that they sell and the originals seem too pricey to be bought. I have decided that artistic integrity and original art is my road to follow. And will pursue this route of original art work though it is more difficult road to follow. We all want to inspire and have our work bought and hung in the home or studios of our followers, I hope to  concentrate a smaller group of artistic followers that crave original art versus artistic” reproductions”. Less sales maybe from the start ,but I am able to attract a group of individuals where original art and handmade is important aspect to their creative choices. This is the road that I have chosen and maybe not for everyone,To each is own,we all are different and based on what we create and the affordability of our creative efforts need to make decisions are best for our business . All for now, sorry once again that it has been to long since my last entry……

Never any time to Blog

It seems that work has taken over most of my time and the dedication to my blog and followers has taken a back seat,in order to get my work done, take a new directions in the combination of illustration and ceramics and I now realize that the the words that I once wrote which were the basis for my thought process, are now dedicated to other social media platforms. For this I am sorry to my followers and hope to have better discipline in balancing between visual imagery and written words…. My creative efforts have taken off and my next steps are how to bring into reality of a bigger audience,online store and all that it takes, to make a business more lucrative. The down side is the incredible amount of back office, shipping and commission work that comes with the growing business. My thoughts are still not clear on which option suits my needs at the moment and how to proceed and rationalize what is right for me as a maker, and who I can grow the business without all getting out of control. Will keep you all posted just need more than 24 hours a day to even start to get the list of the things that I need to get done…..